Hi Daniel, thanks for taking the time out to do this interview. First, could you tell us about your background, as it would be really interesting to know how you started off and what got you here as an artist and illustrator?
After high school I was determined to make a career for myself in fine art (oil painting). I was not very successful and found myself a bit disillusioned with the whole gallery/fine art scene. At about the same time I was discovering concept art/commercial art, where the artists were required to have an understanding of the fundamentals: color, composition, light, anatomy, design, etc. This respect for the "craft” of art appealed to me a great deal. So for the last four years or so I have been trying to make it as an artist in the entertainment industry.
Your paintings are very strong and expressive – I particularly like the portraitures in your portfolio. Some of them remind me of the works of the modern artists and some look quite contemporary. Are you influenced by any particular fine artist(s)?
Yes, definitely – too many to list. But if I were to name two artists who have probably had the most significant influence on me it would be Lucian Freud and Phil Hale.
Amazing artists, I really admire their expertise in figurative and portraiture painting, although I find some of their images quite disturbing! With your tight schedule, do you still manage to find some time away from your computer to do some traditional paintings or are you now completely devoted to your job and digital art?
Yes, unfortunately I do work almost completely digitally these days; it just makes a lot of sense because of the sort of time restrictions I work with. For a recent project at work I did manage to do most of my character design work with pencil and paper,
which I find much more comfortable than drawing digitally. Oil painting is also definitely something I would like to get back to at some point.
There is always a narrative in your illustrations and artworks; do you begin your paintings based on a story? How does it work for you?
It is funny that you should say that, because I have always found the narrative aspect of painting to be the most difficult to achieve and a weakness in my work. I find I often want to get down to the business of "painting”, of pushing colors around the canvas and just playing with tone and color before I have decided what it is exactly I want to say with the piece. My time working in film has taught me to be much more conscious of the "story” in every image I produce though. The visual elements of a film need to work in service of the story, and I think that principal can be carried over to most visual arts.
But it seems that working on stories and in the film industry has brought that element into your paintings. What's your workflow like when you're working on a project, whether it is for a client or it is personal?
Well it varies a lot. For personal work – perhaps in reaction to my paid work – I tend to work very instinctively, never knowing where a painting is taking me. I might start with one idea and end with something completely unrelated and different. With professional work it helps to have a clear idea, which you have discussed with the client/director beforehand, so that both parties know what is expected. There should, of course, always be room to play and explore.